Tierra patted Weiss’s side as trees and forest debris swept by far faster than the woman herself could run. Weiss was not an especially fast horse, and he didn’t like galloping, but he was much better at keeping the two of them in front of a charging, angry demon than Tierra was. Tierra briefly considered haling her steed as she heard trees fall and stone being pushed aside behind her, but decided that she didn’t want to risk losing control of her horse.
Tierra had been told that an old wizard who made his home in this forest had gotten himself sent to Hell about ten years back. She came out here thinking that she might find some gobbet of arcane knowledge that would help her in her quest. She did not, though, come out here thinking that a massive, furry brown serpent with a humanoid head would have come through the portal from the other side. Or that it would be very, very hungry. But it was here, it was hungry, and it was now chasing her through the forest. Every now and then, it would hiss something at her in the demonic tongue.
Weiss bounded over a fallen tree which was just moments later crushed and split into flinders by the serpent’s incredible weight. Tierra ducked under a low-hanging branch with practiced ease, pulled out a talisman from out of her leg pack, wrapped its chain around her hand, and held her hand by Weiss’s side. A pulse of crystal clarity filled the space around them; the sound of water dropping in a spring far in the distance rang in their ears as Tierra intoned the word, “Melia.” The spell took hold, freeing Weiss from whatever fatigue may have crept over them since they began running. Tierra sat up in her saddle and chanced a glance back at their pursuer, who was… still there.
The young adventurer looked forward again, and spied the entrance to a large cave. She wasn’t sure how far back it went, but as it drew nearer, she was sure it was at least far enough back to get them away from the serpent. She was fortunate, too. The cave’s mouth was large enough to admit her atop Weiss, but not so large that the serpent would have an easy time wriggling inside. She felt a hot breath on her back, and turned around to see the demon’s face, not five feet back from her and Weiss.
At one time, she wanted to know exactly what this thing looked like. Now, she was sorry she knew. It had a face like a man’s, but was covered in coarse brown fur with long, blond eyebrows. The demon had no nose to speak of, but two slits in its face, instead. Its mouth was stuck open in a feral leer, and its multihued eyes were wide with madness. Perhaps its worst trait is that it was faster than Weiss, and it was nearly ready to bite and bring down rider and mount. The jewel on Tierra’s neck pulsed and thrummed furiously with her impending doom.
Without hesitation, Tierra reached under the small, leather cape on her side and pulled out her pistol, pointing it at the monster. There was a sharp crack in the air, joined by the trilling sound of two screaming women, as an azure fire erupted from the weapon in Tierra’s hand. The demon halted suddenly as the iron-silver bullet impacted with its face, nearly dead center, throwing its head back from both pain and surprise. Tierra didn’t notice the beast slow down, however. She holstered her gun and took the rein again, steering Weiss straight into the cave.
Stalactites swept by her head, stalagmites rushed past Weiss’s hooves. Tierra tried to steer her mount, but found it fruitless as the horse’s senses and reflexes were far better than her own. She heard the sound of a thump far behind her as the demon tried to follow them and failed. Weiss knew what kind of danger they were in, and his resolve in bolting into the cave did not falter once. Within a minute, Weiss began to slow, and Tierra wondered just how deep in this cave they really were.
It was very dark, here. Tierra heard the sound of water splashing beneath Weiss’s hooves and her muscles tensed. The jewel on her neck stopped pulsing and she slowed Weiss to a halt until her eyes adjusted to the lighting. As soon as the panic of the chase had worn off her, Tierra flinched – this place smelled like an old chamber pot. She wrapped her bandanna around her mouth and nose and tied it off, trying to keep that wretched smell out. Quickly, her eyes adjusted to the light.
She was in a wide corridor with a high, arching ceiling. From wall to wall, the passage she was in was nearly one hundred feet across. Weiss was standing in the middle of the waterway; the grating she could make out through the murk beneath her told her that she was in a sewer. There were walkways on either side of the sewer channel, each about fifteen feet wide. She led Weiss up onto the one on her left and dismounted him, taking a look around. A series of flickering lanterns hung from the walls at fixed intervals, providing the light which filled the sewer.
Tierra heard a quiet scuttling sound in the distance, accompanied by a soft swishing. Without any warning that Tierra was aware of, Weiss broke into a gallop down the long sewer corridor, leaving her all alone in the dim waterway. Steeling herself, she walked forward a ways, eventually turning left around the nearest corner. Pausing, she noticed that the hard scuttling sound was getting louder, as was the swishing that went along with it. She waited a second or two. The sound grew, and quickly.
Panic gripped at the edges of her mind, but she pulled herself out of it. The scuttling sound now reverberated through the wide corridors of the rank sewers, filling Tierra's ears. She took a deep breath and cleared her mind, glancing down at the water pooling around her feet. Her heart beat furiously in her chest and sweat prickled her skin. 'If only it weren't water,' she thought to herself, 'who knows what foul things lurk down here.' Shaking, she jumped onto the relative dry of the sewer's sidewalk. The sound was getting louder. Curiously, she peered around the corridor of the passage...
Eighty feet down the passage, a monstrous thing approached. Its gray, armor-plated body was easily fifty feet wide and was rife with cracks filled with some alien, pulsing violet infection. The crustacean’s left eye hung limp on its head and a twisted piece of iron walkway jutted out from its back. Rapt with fear, Tierra stumbled forward into the channel before catching herself, but it was too late. With its good eye, the beast spotted her. The ticking sound of the monstrous crab's scuttling legs turned to thunder.
Tears in her eyes, Tierra spun on her feet and bolted around the corner she had come from. As the thunderous sound grew louder, she could hear a soft "csh-csh-csh" coming from behind her. The crab rounded the corner, shaking the foundation of the sewers around predator and prey.
As she ran down the corridor, Tierra spotted a drop ahead of her, in a massive round room with no discernable floor. One glance back and the sound of chitinous legs on stone told her that the crab was not giving up its dinner lightly, but she tried slowing herself to a halt, anyway. Her boots caught no purchase on the smooth sewer floor, and she skidded forward. She continued running and reached into her leg pack, fumbling for a tiny, hard block in one of its pockets. As the ledge drew nearer, she pulled the incense from her pack and clapped it to her chest. Silver light limned her hand, the scent of vanilla exploded into the air around her, and she felt her blood pulsing with perfection. The tempo of her footfalls multiplied, and she became unto a blur.
The crab was nearly upon her as she reached the drop-off. At its very edge, she leapt. She jumped not only far into the chasm, but high into the air – nearly twenty feet into the air. As she began to fall earthward again, the crab exploded from the corridor behind her. 'Here's hoping...' she thought to herself. Time seemed to slow down. A massive pincer snapped at the air near her head. Her foot landed on the crab's head; beast and woman were nearly halfway across the chasm, and she jumped again, hurtling herself toward another of the corridors that led into the reservoir.
Tierra landed within inches of the chasm ledge again. She began to tilt backward, losing her balance. Before she knew it, her hand was bringing her warhammer free of its harness. She swung it forward, its spike forward, and it bit into the ground, holding her in place. She sighed in relief, and chanced a look back toward the gulf. Far below, she could barely make out the image of the mighty sewer crab before it disappeared into the blackness.
Now safe from the crab, she leapt up onto the walkway of the sewer and began to explore the realm around her. Most of it was much the same and she more than once ran across a sewer rodent of unusual size, but it was par for the course in her career. After nearly an hour of searching, she spotted a familiar shape in the distance – Weiss.
When Tierra met up with him, Weiss was standing in front of a large brass hatch in the wall, nearly thirty feet across. He looked at her as though nothing were wrong, then at the hatch. Tierra shook her head at the horse, scolding him, “And you couldn’t wait for me? I see how it is.” Weiss nipped at her in reply, and pushed her toward the door. “Alright, alright. I’m opening it,” she said.
She set her hands on the lever that spanned the gate’s length, pushed it up until she heard the groan of its mechanism, and pulled it open. Sunlight flooded over both of them.
I want you to wander around the Dome for a bit, just taking in the scene, etc...You can wander into any of the Dome's FIXED rooms, that is the Fountain Room, the Gardens, the Cafeteria, the Dome Center, the Infirmary, etc.... but I want you to end up in a room that is basically a big lake. Oh, make sure you describe the door. The key to the Dome is its doors. There is an island in the middle of it, and I want you to get to it, whatever mode of transportation you choose (*hint hint*, be creative). Once there you will hear a splash, but that is all. Stop at that, and I will do the introduction between our two chars. Your teacher will meet you there.
OoC: Water? o_O Eeek... scary. *shivers* Okay, Z. You got it, but it may be a few days, we just lost our home computer.
Tierra squinted against the harsh light from outside, and shielded her eyes with one hand until her sight adjusted. Glancing at Weiss, she could see he felt much the same way about the sudden change of illumination. After a half minute or so, Tierra’s eyes had adjusted to the lighting, and she pushed the heavy metal gate open further, until she and Weiss could walk through it side by side.
Slowly, Tierra and her companion ventured out of the darkness, up a short hill that had been dug into the ground. The earth beneath her feet was covered in lush green grass; it was a welcome change from the murky waters she had traversed just moments before. Low hedges and flower gardens spanned for hundreds of feet in all directions, and sunlight poured down over the gardens from cloud-strewn skies far above.
Tierra looked around suspiciously – cautious of her surroundings. This place was nothing like that forest she had come in through, and she doubted a wizard’s tower, abandoned for nearly a decade, would have a garden so well tended. Clearly, she was not where she meant to be. A look exchanged with Weiss told her the horse found nothing to fear in their surroundings, but she wanted to be careful nonetheless. Closing the massive gate behind her, Tierra ventured further up into the garden.
When she crested the small hill that served as a ramp down into the sewers beneath the garden, Tierra spotted a large fountain some fifty feet away from her, surrounded by a circle of stone benches and a few small trees. Sitting on one of the benches, facing her, was a boy. He was a fair skinned youth with short, glossy brown hair who dressed in simple white clothing and carried a leather messenger bag, slung across his left shoulder. He was watching the waters rise from the spout atop the fountain, just before his attention was caught by a large bird that soared overhead, bound for one of the garden’s edges. As the bird faded into the distance, he looked down, and caught sight of the adventuress and her companion. He raised one hand into the air and waved to her, then hopped down from the bench and jogged across the garden toward her. Tierra rested her hand at her side, near her warhammer.
The boy reached her, stopping nearly eight feet in front of her and set his hands on his knees, taking a breath after his jog. He looked up at her with bright eyes, and asked suddenly, “Are you miss… or, mister Tierra?” Tierra glanced to the side slightly, but kept her eyes on the boy. She said nothing. Catching the cue, the boy went on, “If you are, I was sent to deliver a message to you.”
Tierra pursed her lips. Her bandana hid her features; she could quite easily pass for a young man. It might be safer. The boy faltered, his nerve clearly shaken from the sharp stare Tierra gave him. After a moment, Tierra spoke, her voice changed with the practice of passing for male, “Who are you, and am I in Hell?” She sounded as direct and untrusting as she wished to.
Neither question phased the youth. He responded brightly, his manner practiced, “I am Prince Argen Telaura the Third of the Shining Seas, presently serving as a messenger here in the Dome, where you are, which is most certainly not Hell.”
“You’re a prince?” Tierra asked, clearly unbelieving. Most princes she had ever heard of did not dress like this boy did. Even those serving as pages wore some manner to prove their claim. This Argen Telaura did not.
The explained himself quickly, but not hastily, “Only on technicality, sir. As long as I’m training at the Dome, I’m just like anyone else. My father believes that spending time here will help me learn how to be humble, how to defend myself, and how to defend our nation from assault after my coronation. You see, we have a neighbor who wants to own our lands, -“ Tierra’s ear twitched, and she narrowed her eyes slightly, “- and they try taking us by storm every time a new king comes to power, hoping to pray on his inexperience in war.”
“I thought you said you were a prince of seas, not lands. Which is it?” It was not so much a question as it was an accusation. Argen shifted a little.
“It’s both. It’s a coastal kingdom with large deciduous forests and many stone buttes around it. In the mornings, shortly before the sun rises, a mist covers the forest trees, making them shine in the dawn. That’s where the name comes from.” Argen paused for a moment, “I’m sorry, but if you’re not Tierra, I have to be going. I have many letters that need to be delivered.”
The boy turned to leave, retrieved a thick note from his bag and read something from it. Taking a deep breath, Tierra removed the bandana from around her face and let it fall behind her, addressing the young prince just as he was taking his bearings to leave, “I’ll take that message. I’m Tierra.” The boy stopped, confused at the more feminine sound of Tierra’s voice.
Argen turned around, showing Tierra the puzzled look on his face, “You’re… a girl?”
“Got a problem with that?” Tierra shot back.
Argen’s eyes widened as he drew a short breath. “Er, n-no…” he stammered, “I-I just thought that from a moment ago, you were a… well, that you weren’t a girl, that’s all. Sorry.” Tierra inclined her eyebrows at the boy, waiting for something. Catching her cue again, he quickly reached into his bag and drew out a rolled piece of parchment, tied with a pale blue ribbon. Argen handed the letter to her, and she handed him one of the small, uncut rubies kept in her leg pack.
“I don’t know what kind of coin this Dome uses, but I hope that will be worth your trouble,” Tierra said as she began to unroll the letter. Skimming over it, she found it was written in the hand of someone unfamiliar to her.
‘Welcome to the Dome,’ the letter read. ‘Here at the Dome, you will be trained in the art of battle by one of our illustrious instructors. Each instructor has their own special style for teaching students, but your teacher has been assigned to you because of who you are and who you can become.’
Tierra scratched her neck, unsure of what to make of the strange note. Taking a breath, she went on.
‘During your stay, we encourage you to have a look around the Dome and experience all it has to offer. Presently, you are in the Gardens. From here, there is a connection to the sewers, from which you came, and too many other places, where you have not yet been. Further into the Dome, you will find many people and creatures from all across time and space, who have come here or been brought here for exactly the same reason you have.
‘Be wary of the Doors here. Each new door leads to someplace just as new. Some of those places are inside the Dome; others lead to worlds like your own, or perhaps not like your own. The door you will be looking for leads to the Island, where you will meet with your instructor for the first time.
‘Good luck, and may you find everything you are looking for!
‘Signed, the Dome’
“Signed, the Dome?” Tierra repeated aloud. “Someone must have named a guild after this place. Speaking of which…” Tierra looked around the gardens and reached into the pouch on her leg again. This time, she withdrew a lump of sugar and gave it to Weiss, who had begun to nudge her shoulder. The horse took the sugar lump and savored it happily.
Thinking quietly, Tierra walked over to the benches by the fountain, letting Weiss take a drink from the waters there. She sat on a bench, then looked up and asked aloud, “Gilda, is everything in the note that was given to me by Argen Telaura the Third true?”
A brush of wind swept past her ear, accompanied by the sound of singing wind chimes, “A well-posed question, Tierra. No, not everything in that note is true.” This was Gilda, the knowledge spirit who inhabited her earcuff. Over the years, Tierra had learned to ask only very specific question of Gilda, or else she might receive the wrong information back, or none at all. Gilda was a spirit of knowledge, but also of secrets. She kept her knowledge carefully guarded, despite having sworn years ago to aid Tierra on her journeys.
“Which parts of that note are true, and which are not, Gilda? Also, on the parts that are not true, what makes them untrue?” Tierra spoke as if addressing a lawmaker, which she was nearly certain Gilda would have been, if she were mortal.
The jingle of wind chimes continued to sound in Tierra’s ear, “Most of the note’s contents are true. However, not all of the Dome’s instructors are illustrious. Also, not everyone in the Dome is here because they are supposed to be training. There are also the Domerii, who live in the Dome and serve the Dome.”
“Thank you, Gilda. Now… the note mentioned an island. What kind of island is that?” Tierra asked, a slight tremble in her voice.
“A body of land, surrounded on all sides by something which is not land.” Gilda responded, a touch of triumph in her voice. She knew this was not what Tierra wanted, but reveled whenever she could get away with answering the mage’s questions like this.
Tierra gave an exasperated sigh, then tried her question again, “Is the island referenced by the note that was given to me by Argen Telaura the Third surrounded by a body of water, Gilda?”
“Yes, it is,” came her answer.
Tierra frowned, and her stomach turned. “I was afraid you were going to say that.”
* * *
Three hours later found Tierra wandering through the Dome. She had long ago left the gardens, and now found herself walking through a place that resembled a wide street of a city whose place in time was indescribable. There were street lamps, but they were not lit by flame, only pure light that made a slight buzzing sound not unlike the inside of an alchemist’s lab, where lightning was kept trapped on V-shaped spindles. People of all sorts milled about here, going to and fro on errands and chores too numerous to think of. Some of the folks in the Dome were beyond the scope of what Tierra would have called people just a day before. A creature who appeared to be a cross between a man and a black lion mistook her for a horse merchant earlier, and presently she spoke to a man-sized golem of segmented black metal, whose face appeared to be nothing more than a curved pane of opaque, cyan crystal.
“Golem,” she began, “are you of the directing variety, the guarding, or some other?” The creature did not respond. Frustrated, she stood more directly in front of the construct and addressed it again, “Black golem, can you speak or can you not? Merely shake your head from side to side if you cannot.” The construct cocked its head and seemed to look at her.
A masculine and metallic voice resounded from the creature, “What did you call me?” From its tone, Tierra garnered the distinct impressions of confusion and disbelief.
‘Great, someone’s gone and given it a personality,’ Tierra thought to herself. Narrowing her eyes just slightly, Tierra answered, “I called you golem. Are you not a construct of magical nature?”
The thing hesitated, and Tierra considered walking away in her frustration. Suddenly, an explosive hiss erupted from the golem’s neck, and small plumes of white vapor escaped the segment which held its head on. Tierra reached for her warhammer as the golem lifted its hands toward its head and – took it off. What a strange thing to do!
When the creature’s head was off its shoulders, Tierra was astonished to see a man’s head beneath. His eyes were a piercing green color, and his hair was white, though he didn’t appear to any older than thirty. Inside, she balked for a moment, while her eyes bore into the man in apparent anger. With a deep, gruff voice, the man said, “Whatever it is you mean, I ain’t it.”
The woman’s face flushed red with embarrassment, which made her glare look, if anything, even more intense. She drew a breath to steady herself. “Are you wearing a golem?” she asked incredulously. She had meant to apologize, but her curiosity caught the better of her at the last moment.
The black-clad man looked down at himself, and then held a metallic hand in front of his face. Putting it down, he answered, “This? Naw, it’s just my armor.” Quickly, he gave her the once over, and narrowed his eyes as her embarrassment seemed to wash away. “You’re new at the Dome, aren’t you? Trying to get somewhere?” To Tierra, the man asked these questions easily.
Setting her jaw and glancing away slightly, the young adventuress responded, “I am new here, yes. And, I am trying to find my way.” Despite being dressed in an armor that was far beyond her time, this black dressed man didn’t feel like a threat to her. She decided it would be alright to fill him in. “I was given a letter that told me I need to find an island, but I haven’t the first clue where I’m supposed to find an island in a place like this.”
The armored man nodded, more to himself than anyone else, and then looked directly at Tierra with a friendly, almost fatherly smile, “Then you’re at the right place, in any event. The doors will take you where you need to go, and this place –“ he jerked his thumb at the large building behind him, “has more doors than any other I know.”
Tierra smiled at him in return, gave him a nod and said, “Thank you, sir, and I’m sorry for confusing you for a guide, earlier.”
The man shrugged in reply, “I am a guide. I just don’t know what the heck a golem is. Would you like me to stable your horse for you?”
Tierra looked at Weiss, who seemed to be staring off into space. With a glance back at the armored man by the door she said, “Yes, please. He’s getting tired. And here’s for your trouble…” she reached inside the pouch on her leg, withdrew a dazzling crystal, blue in color, and handed it to the guide along with Weiss’s rein.
“Thank you very much, miss. And this is for you.” The man produced a white metal token from his armor and handed it to Tierra, who took it with a nod, and headed indoors. The man waved to her as she walked through the front door of the building.
Inside, Tierra found the atmosphere to be especially comfortable. It appeared to be a waiting room of some kind. Large, white globes that hung from the ceiling lit the room and simple, yet comfortable looking cushioned couches lined the walls. Sitting, there were persons of various heritages and lifestyles, and at the center of then room was a desk of grey wood where a pretty young lady dressed all in white sat and spoke with people as they approached the counter.
Tierra waited for a few moments, until there was no longer anyone at the counter, and then walked over to it, herself. The lady sitting at the desk looked up at her and smiled. Her voice was musical, and it reminded Tierra of smooth crystals. “Hello, welcome to the reception desk,” she said.
“Hello,” the young adventuress replied, “I’m looking for a door that will take me to an island, where I’m supposed to meet an instructor, I believe.”
The receptionist responded immediately, as if she had heard the request hundreds of times before, “Can you be more specific? There are many islands available through our doors.”
The mage woman hummed to herself quietly, thinking, and then offered her letter to the woman at the desk, “I received this from a messenger, perhaps it will help?”
The young lady sitting at the desk reached out and accepted the letter graciously. As her hand touched the page, her pale blue eyes flushed into a static grey color, and she halted. For the better part of a second, the receptionist did not as much as twitch. Then, her eyes turned blue again and she said, “You are Miss Tierra Nena, the young mage of Acadnia and Shadowtop who has arrived recently. We’ve been expecting you, miss. You will find the door you seek down the hallway to your right. Thank you, and have a good day.”
Tierra nodded to the young woman at the desk appreciatively, and went to her right, where she found a hallway filled with many, many doorways, each just inches from the frame of the next. She considered going back to the receptionist for some additional direction, but on glancing, she saw that a line several people long had formed in her wake. With a shrug, she walked down the hallway, looking around for signs that one of these doors may lead to the island.
After nearly twenty minutes of searching, she found exactly what she was looking for. Above one of the doors in the hallway, there was a sign which read ‘Island’ in the hand of her native Shadowtop. Gazing at the sign, Tierra mused, “This must be the place.” She looked down at the door itself; it was made of a single pane of ash wood, inlaid with silver in many places. Its frame glittered from veins of either crystal or ore (Tierra couldn’t tell which) and its handle was nonexistent. Instead, it had a smooth, black surface where the handle should be. Curious, she reached out and touched the spot with her hand. It glowed blue from within, then suddenly slid open, to the right, through its frame and the wall.
Inside the door, or perhaps outside the door, now that Tierra could see it, there was a vast grassy beach, which led down to a sparkling lake on one side and toward a lightly wooded area on the other. Tierra stepped through, looking around. The sun hung high, and fluffy white clouds dotted the sky. The young woman turned around the see the building she had come from, but there was only the door in its frame, and nothing around it. Promptly, it faded from sight.
Tierra dashed forward, trying to catch it by the handle as the door slipped away into oblivion, but realized just a moment too late that not only did the door lack a handle, but her hand slipped right through the place that it was supposed to be. With an audible sigh, she turned toward the lake and shivered at the sight.
It was a lake, indeed. It spanned miles into the distance, and there was a large island at its center, dotted with many large trees and complete with what Tierra thought to be ruins of some old castle. A wide river fed the lake from its northern side, and the river continued again, though is thinner form, on the lake’s southeastern side.
The young woman sighed, looking at her destination. After a minute, she said, “Gilda, how am I going to get to that island?” It wasn’t a real question, but Gilda would answer nonetheless.
The sound of wind chimes jingled in her ear, “There are many things of the future which are uncertain. How you will reach your goals are among them.” Gilda sounded pleased to have been given another chance to sass the mage.
Tierra smirked; she knew that answer was coming. Gilda had told it to her every other time she asked about such a thing. Tierra blinked, though, catching inspiration. Without pause, she asked the spirit another question, “Then, what would be your first suggestion, Gilda?”
Smugly, the jingling of wind chimes formed the words, “I would suggest that you wait for the train and take that over.”
Tierra stopped smiling quite suddenly. Train? Like the kind on a wedding dress, or what? Rather than ask, Tierra decided to take the knowledge spirit’s suggestion, and wait.
More than an hour passed by. Looking around cautiously for signs of whatever a train might be, Tierra abruptly stood up and looked at Gilda indignantly, who she had visualized in front of herself. “I thought you said—” With no warning at all, the ground shook as though something heavy were passing by. Like a herd of stampeding aurochs.
From the water’s edge, thirty feet in front of her and forty to her right, a massive engine of shining metal and glass burst out of the lake. It was enormous and imposing. It had a long, straight body of gleaming black and silver iron and steel, accented with brass and which steamed jettisoned from various ports along its length. The behemoth stood over fifteen feet high and easily more than thirty feet long on six glimmering steel wheels on each side, all linked by a wide bar of metal. Its back end was attached to a similar construct by means of a thick black sheath of some shiny material that Tierra had never seen before coming to the Dome. That segment was still partially submerged, and something gave the young traveler the impression that there were more such segments beneath the water. In a fashion, this construct reminded Tierra of a gigantic metal snake. She was stunned; she had never seen anything like it in her life. In her shock, she had even forgotten that it was drenched in water. An awed word escaped from her lips, “What…?”
The sound of wind chimes danced happily and smugly in her ear, audible over the sound of rushing water and settling mechanisms of the great beast, “A train.”
A wide hatch on the side of the engine pressed outward, then opened. From it, a ramp slid down to the beach and a tall creature, dressed in white and red robes walked out. The creature appeared to be mostly human, but for his elongated arms and the cream-colored, feathered wings upon his back. He glanced at Tierra, and a voice spoke inside her mind, “It is a submarine train, young one. A machine capable of traveling safely beneath the waves, and which will take you to wherever you wish to go along the river.” She felt a presence, like a gentle hand, press into her psyche. Before she could speak, the voice sounded in her mind again, “Yes, it will take you to the island in the lake.” With that, the angelic being looked toward the train engine, paused, and then walked away from everything, toward the woods behind Tierra. The creature spoke in her mind again, “Bless you, young one, and fair travels.”
Tierra turned to follow the angelic wayfarer with her eyes, finding herself murmuring a blessing back to him. Quickly, her attention was called back to the train by the sound of one of its steam vents blasting. She looked the train over, still in awe. A portly looking man, who could not have possibly been more than five and a half feet tall appeared in the hatchway, “Coming aboard, miss?” he called out to her, “I hear from the Orgean yonder that you’re headed for the island in the lake. The Lady Luck’s with you, lass, that’s our next stop!”
A rivulet of water bumped into her foot, and she withdrew that foot from the water with incredible haste, her fear returning. She stared at the train, hesitating, before the portly man’s expression spurred her into motion. For now, she would have to stow her reservations about this mode of transportation.
Dashing, she made her way up to the ramp and climbed into the incredible machine. Once she was there, the portly fellow smiled at her and said, “Welcome aboard the Golden Yggdrasil, please have a seat at the bench, there,” said, pointing toward a bench on the opposite side that had been cushioned with a long, red velvet pillow, “and I’ll let the helmsman know where you want to go.” His uniform was red with golden accents, and he wore an ostentatious badge that contrasted somehow with his friendly demeanor. He paused for a moment, and then asked Tierra, “Oh, the Orgean was right, wasn’t he? It was the island you were headed to?”
Tierra nodded at the man as she took her seat, “Yes, it was. May I ask the fare for riding, sir?”
The man just shook his head at her and smiled, “There will be no fare necessary, miss. We’re just so overjoyed to have real, living passengers.”
Tierra’s eyes widened in fright and she turned pale. Her breaths became quick and shallow. Seeing this, the portly man burst into a chuckle, doing his best to console her, “Oh, no! You misunderstand! Please, m’lady, relax. The Golden Yggdrasil normally carries the souls of great heroes who died in battle to their heavenly resting places, but we cater to anyone along the shore of the river! It’s just a nice change of pace to see someone who rides with us and isn’t bound for Ysgard, Elysium, or some other such place. That’s all, I swear!”
His voice was cheery and honest, but Tierra could tell that her own fear of the situation struck him as genuinely laughable. It was that, more than anything, which made her calm down. As the doors closed, white lights awoke along the ceiling, bathing the room in soft radiance. The red dressed man walked away from her, after seeing that she was suitably calm, and as he disappeared through a doorway halfway down the engine, the train slid smoothly into motion.
Before she knew it, the train was headed up a hill and slowing to a halt. It had only been about twenty minutes since the hatch across from her had closed that it opened again, revealing a very different landscape than had before. Beyond, it was no longer the shore around the lake, but the shore of the island. In the distance, of to her left, she could see the river starting from the river again. The red dressed man with the badge on his uniform walked into the room again, and smiled at Tierra. “Did you enjoy the journey, young lady? I know it was short, so we hope you’ll ride with us again, soon. After the train gets moving, you can hear music echoing in from the water outside.”
“That, uh… that sounds nice,” she managed. “If you’ll excuse me, though, I think I have some business that I’m supposed to attend while I’m here. Thank you.” With that and a friendly wave to the conductor, she stepped down the ramp and onto the blessed and wonderful dry ground. The hatch on the train closed again and the train departed into the lake, much more quietly than when it arrived. She stared at it as it was leaving, until the last of its ripples brushed the beach, and turned to face the island.
Tierra began to walk up toward the stone ruins in the distance, and then froze in her tracks. Her magenta eyes flashed as she reached into the satchel of alchemical powder on her belt – there was a splash behind her, and it sounded far different and smaller than the train.
OoC: Good post... @_@ But we're going to have to do what's called "Trimming the Fat", or removing superfluous or extra stuff from your writing. However, we'll start that with your next assignment.
BiC: The air cooled drastically as a red haired figure appeared, running his hands over his shirt and wiping away snow flakes onto the ground. The woman's eyes went wide as she looked at the young man that had emerged as he looked at her. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll get to it in a second... just one thing!" he said, extending his hands to the side and looking up. The sun began to reflect off of the red haired boy as he stepped forwards, standing next to her as the sun faded and leaving a snow copy that quickly fell apart and scattered into the wind.
"Pretty cool, right?" Zachary asked as he looked at the woman, who simply nodded and then stepped back, startled. "Yeah, that's about what I did when I met my teacher too. I'm sure its less that you're scared than your shocked at what you're seeing. Or maybe its just that you didn't see me move because the snow was reflecting the sun. Yeah, pretty much all I did was freeze all of the water on my clothing, push it out so it formed a near identical image of myself, spread it so I could move past, and then brought it back together into a look-alike of me long enough to startle you," the ice innate stated as he started walking.
"T-teacher?" she asked, regaining her composure.
"Yeah, that's what I said. To save you and I time," the ice mage said as he walked on, "I'm going to give you the quick run through on what's going on. I am Zachary Leos. You are at the Dome. The Dome is an inter-dimensional place where warriors either quest for or come across in their journeys to be trained by the masters here. And, if you're wondering, my main power is ice magic. My expertise is in magical training, with a minor in a skill called Recreation. Although, this all means absolutely nothing since in about the next ten minutes, the Dome's going to tell me to send you somewhere, like into those ruins," he said, jerking his thumb at the ruins.
"So, you've got ten minutes to ask questions before you have to get going. Starting... now!"
OoC: Man I feel good. All of my characters are coming out very well of late. Anyway, new assignment:
Tierra will have a chance to ask Zachary a few questions. He'll answer any questions she has about the Dome, where they are at that moment, and anything else she's wondering... except about himself. He won't discuss his personal life, because he feels that is no one's business but his own. For that part, you have a maximum of 250 words, since its all dialogue. After that, Zach will tell her to head off into the ruins in search of a treasure chest you'll end the post finding. Word maximum of 500 words for that part. Keep in mind: avoid superfluous words, thoughts and phrases.
Tierra thought to herself as the boy was talking, ‘It would seem that it may be in my best interest to play along with whatever is going on until I can figure it out for myself. And geez, whoever this Leos character is, he likes to talk almost as much as he likes to show off. Although, maybe I can appeal to that…’
As soon as the ice innate said ‘now,’ Tierra started talking, feigning as much interest as she could muster, "As you must already know, my name is Tierra Nena. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Master Leos… it’s going to be an honor to be taught by you, if you’ve already earned the recognition of the Dome at your young age. May I ask how you came to be such a great mage?” Her eyes faltered, betraying how she really felt, so she looked up toward the ruins instead of at directly her teacher.
“Well, that’s actually a little too personal,” he responded, “if you don’t mind.”
Tierra cut in abruptly, “Sorry, you’re here to teach me, not make small talk. In that case, I don’t have any questions, unless you can tell me what I’ll be going to that ruin for.” She had already begun checking herself for anything she’d need for a foray into any tomb or dungeon.
Zachary looked up toward the broken castle as if he were almost going to think about it. Then, as far as Tierra knew, he answered without thinking at all, “Yeah, you’ll be looking for a chest in there. I can’t tell you where it is, but you’ll know when you find it.”
“Fine. I’ll be back soon.” Tierra said. She was already walking toward the remains of the once great palace. On her way there, and after she was sure to be out of the boy’s earshot, she asked, “Gilda, is that person I left on the beach the Zachary Leos who was sent by the Dome to be my teacher?” The wind jingled in her ear. “Good. Then, is the chest he was referring to real?” The air chimed again. “Now, if I wanted to take the best humanly possible route to finding the chest that was referenced by my teacher, Zachary Leos, which route would I take from where I am walking, now?”
The air chimed from Tierra’s earcuff, “You’re practically cheating, Tierra. Your teacher wanted you to find the chest.”
“It’s been a long time since you protested to giving your expert advice, Gilda. I am finding the chest, and I’m using all the resources available to me. You just so happen to be the best resource I have.” Tierra retorted back to the spirit.
The breeze jingled in her ear, “I know you’re just tempting my vanity, Tierra. It’s working, though.” The spirit of knowledge went on, describing to the young woman how best to reach her goal.
* * *
Twenty minutes later, Tierra was walking among the fallen walls and nature-eaten floors of the castle’s walls. She reasoned that in the castle’s prime, it must have been an edifice of incredible glory – tall, shining spires, vast tapestries and gleaming white stone walls; halls paved in red velvet and lined with all manners of worldly wealth. Anymore, it showed the ravages of siege and time. Catapult stones littered its halls; furniture and stretches of carpet were half-burned; grass, brush and even trees had invaded its demesne.
As Tierra crept into the throne room, she spied evidence of the secret stair behind the throne. Smiling to herself, she walked toward her destination.
Suddenly, a stone pillar smashed the ground into front of Tierra, felled with more force than mere falling. On instinct, she jumped back and with her gaze, followed the weapon to its source. Eight feet tall, a giant glared at her from eyes of stone. It hefted its club again.
“Bad.” Tierra scolded. Taking a foot-long knotted string from her pouch, she lifted it to her eyes and spied the construct from across her cord. The golem began its advance just as she thrust the knot from one extreme to the other, throwing the creature free of the castle walls, and toward the beach she had come from.
Replacing the string into her pouch, Tierra crossed the throne room and walked down the stairs, where, at the end of the hall, she spied the chest. Broad and tall, it was decorated with gold and eagerly awaited being opened.
Okay. Pretty good post, I must say. Now then, just a few minor things:
‘It would seem that it may be in my best interest to play along with whatever is going on until I can figure it out for myself. And geez, whoever this Leos character is, he likes to talk almost as much as he likes to show off. Although, maybe I can appeal to that…’
It would seem that it may be in my best interest to play along with whatever is going on until I can figure it out for myself. And geez, whoever this Leos character is, he likes to talk almost as much as he likes to show off. Although, maybe I can appeal to that…
Whenever your character has a thought, it is standard protocol to use italics. The same goes for letters or things being read. ^_^
“Bad.” Tierra scolded.
“Fine. I’ll be back soon.” Tierra said.
“Bad,” Tierra scolded.
“Fine. I’ll be back soon,” Tierra said.
Whenever attaching action to something spoken or read or thought, use a comma to connect the dots... if you catch my drift.
Now that Tierra's got the treasure chest, it is time to open it up. Have her find something you think will be useful to her during her journey through the Dome. It can be anything you want, so long as it isn't too powerful. It could be a sword, or a jewel or anything you think would help make her a little stronger for her trials to come. I want you to describe this object and its chest with a maximum of 400 words. Good luck. ^_^
Sighting her prey, Tierra grinned broadly. She’d seen this set up before. Ostentatious and jewel-bedecked, the chest practically dripped with the promise of glorious treasure within. It was designed to make corpses out of excitable thieves.
Kneeling down before the chest, Tierra leaned in close to smell its surface, finding nothing but lacquered wood and old metal. She ran her fingers over the chest, searching for hidden switches. There were none. Reaching to its lid, she raised it just a fraction of a single centimeter, listening closely – as it lifted, she heard the twang of wires, a spring and a metal bolt. One wire on either side and the spring in the center. Chuckling to herself, Tierra hopped over the chest and swung her war hammer’s spike toward the ceiling, biting deeply into a soft cleft of stone there. With one foot on each wall to her sides and her war hammer as a handle above her, she suspended herself in the small corridor, about a foot above the treasure chest. With her other hand, the young adventuress lifted the lid from the chest and watched her caution pay off.
A pair of scythe-like blades snapped out behind the chest and swung around to its front in a flash, while a dart trailing liquid poison flew off and struck the stairs she had just descended. Anyone who had been in front of, beside or behind that chest would quite dead by now. Tierra dropped down in front of the chest and pulled her hammer out of the ceiling, replacing it in its harness, and then looked into the chest.
Treasure, and each piece wrapped in purple velvet. A saber was no use to the adventuress, but the targe near it was. In the five-sided design of the classic medium shield, it was crafted from hardwood bound in thick suede, with white metal studs in a spartan array on its front face. Her left hip would be a great place to keep that. Another fold held many large coins of gold and silver, which the lady accepted graciously. Finally, though, Tierra found the real treasure here. A small satin bag with a tiny crystal phial half filled with a pinch of blue crystal powder – atenaar. This treasure she savored, and placed it daintily into her leg pack.
Finished, Tierra turned around, and began the trek back to her “instructor”.
OoC: Good post. I liked the array of things in there. Now then, time to show how Zach's been.
BiC: "Down here!" he called up, his sword stabbed into the frozen rock monster. The stupid beast had fallen from the sky and had wound up quite a wonderful statue to this island. "Thanks for that golem, it wasn't much fun," the ice innate mocked as he pulled his sword from the frozen beast's head. "Now then, follow me," he said as the room slowly faded away and the two returned to the Dome. "Time I show you to your room."
OoC: Now then, to continue.
Simply put, this lesson is a description of your room. Your character will be told to find his/her room. Each room is different and unique. Take some time and describe the door; the secret to the Dome is its many doors. Each door is unique and elaborate, and gives a clue as to what lays beyond its closed surface. Afterwards, your character will enter their room, which reflects the character in some way. Take your time and describe EVERYTHING. That means furniture, colours, décor, etc...EVERYTHING!! I want you to SHOW me the place, so I can imagine what it looks like. This post is all about description, NOT necessarily action. For help, check out other people’s training threads. Minimum 600 words.
Tierra looked about the Dome as the island faded away. Cautiously, she felt her hip for the new shield she’d acquired in the castle. Since it was still present, she checked for the new phial of atenaar, and found it present, as well. Chances were, the island and the area around it was not an illusion, despite its mysterious disappearance.
Nevertheless, she found that she was once again inside the Dome. She followed Zachary along one of its paved and busy streets that were the melting pot of people and creatures from across time and the scattered planes. The boy seemed lighthearted enough, but conversation with him was still out of the question. It didn’t matter, anyway. Tierra stopped abruptly, nearly running into her teacher. They had arrived at a building not unlike the one she found the door to the island in.
She watched Zachary while he let the two of them inside, expecting him to say something at any moment, like explain where they were or brag about some kind of trick he’d picked up along the way to find his way around. He didn’t; he kept just as quiet as Tierra did. They walked down a hallway to their right on entering the building, Zach leading her past countless doors, until he stopped in front of one of them. Zach turned around and said, “Alright, this is your room.”
Tierra glanced to her left. The door was just inches away from one on its left, and another on its right. It was made of high quality, reddish hued hardwood, sanded smooth and painted over with a fine polish. Its frame, while made of the same wood, was fashioned with the likenesses of many hearths, books, magical symbols and – toward its top – the sun, moon and stars. Its handle was a brightly polished and heavy duty brass knob, with a keyhole beneath it. She grasped the knob, turned it, and pushed the door open. Beyond the threshold, Tierra’s room was perplexingly larger than the closet it had given the impression of from the outside.
The room was a mixture of den, study and library, with two doors not unlike the one leading into it, leading out. A thick, mostly burgundy rug decorated with fancy, intertwined pattern in the colors of pale gold, silver and grey-blue covered the hardwood floor of the room. A thick, wicker basket sitting beside the door told her the carpet was all the comfort she would need, and so she took off her boots before walking further inside. The carpet was soft, indeed.
Above the shoe basket were two rows of sturdy pegs sticking out from the wall at an angle – one on about waist height, the other at her neck’s height. Removing her outermost cloak, the cloak covering her left side, and her grey-blue bandanna, she hung them on one of the neck-height pegs and continued exploring the room.
The room was lit by the eastern windows which looked out into a grassy, woodland glade where sunlight spilled down from above. On a fifth, small and angled wall to the northeast, a windowed wooden door led on onto a stone terrace before the forest. Tierra was certain that if she walked out that door, she would find an entire world waiting to be explored, but she forced herself to turn her eyes to the room she was standing in, once again.
Two couches faced the fireplace from different directions, each with its own small table beside it, positioned so that a person sitting in either of them could easily see the hearth and its mantle on the western wall or a person sitting in the other, while a cushioned rocking chair faced both the couches from the southwestern corner of the room. The pleasing smell of burning cedar wood pervaded the room.
The southern wall, between the rocking chair and the shoe basket, was set with five heavy shelves. Each shelf was filled with tomes, books and volumes of arcane and esoteric subjects. Boasting such titles as ‘Theurgy for the Sorcerer,’ ‘Remedial White Magic,’ and ‘The Crane’s Treatise,’ each book swore to be a good read for any aspiring mage.
On the northern wall, there was another door, which led into a darker room where Tierra could see the foot of a four-poster bed, and a dresser with a mirror over it on the other side from her. Between that door and the fireplace, there was a cabinet in the wall. Opening its twin doors revealed two shelves. The upper shelf held a small collection of liquor bottles and a half dozen thick crystal cups, while the shelf beneath that one opened, revealing a cold box filled with cubed pieces of ice, and a pair of tongs sitting atop them.
Looking toward the door where Zachary still stood, Tierra made a mental note to look into her bed chamber later. “Aren’t you going to come in, Master Leos?” she inquired, speaking as politely as possible.
Zachary adjusted his sword and turned from the woman, laughing a bit. "I haven't the time. Please forgive me while I take leave. Until I return, you have time to do as you please," the Ice Elemental said with a smile as he walked off. He had something to deal with briefly.
OoC: All in all, good assignment. I liked the description, but it wasn't overwhelming. Congrats. ^_^
While Zachary's away, Tierra has some time to herself. You can have her either rest or have her adventure around a bit. The adventure can be whatever you want to around the Dome, but if you choose her to sleep, then describe the dream she has. Either way, the word maximum is 1000 words. Have fun. ^_^